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Roethlisberger to restructure deal

By Will Graves

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 1 2011 3:55 p.m. MDT

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wears the practice jersey of former teammate Max Starks during training camp at the NFL football team's practice facility in Latrobe, Pa., on Sunday, July 31, 2011. After practice, Roethlisberger said he saw the jersey in Stark's old locker and decided to wear it to honor him.

Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger is doing his part to help the Pittsburgh Steelers get under the salary cap.

The veteran quarterback has agreed to restructure his contract to help the defending AFC champions get under the $120.4 million cap.

Ryan Tollner, Roethlisberger's agent, said the team approached the two-time Super Bowl winner about the deal, but added it would not affect the length or the money involved in the eight-year, $102 million deal the quarterback signed in 2008.

"We've reviewed it and agreed to it," Tollner said Monday.

The Steelers entered training camp about $10 million over the salary cap and last week released veterans Max Starks, Flozell Adams and Antwaan Randle El to shed payroll.

Roethlisberger wore Starks' No. 78 in practice on Sunday as a tribute to his longtime teammate. The two were both members of Pittsburgh's 2004 NFL draft class.

Director of football operations Kevin Tolbert said Saturday the team wouldn't rule out other personnel moves to shave payroll. Roethlisberger could be joined by several teammates in restructuring their deals so the Steelers can keep intact the core that led them to the Super Bowl six months ago.

Roethlisberger would likely not sign any paperwork until Thursday.

Under the new collective bargaining rules, players who sign contracts are not permitted to practice with the team until Aug. 4. Tollner said teams typically move money from a player's base pay to their signing bonus to keep it from counting against the cap.

The 29-year-old Roethlisberger is coming off a solid season in which he passed for 3,200 yards and 17 touchdowns after being suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Tolbert acknowledged the team knew it would have to get creative with its finances after making a heavy investment last season in hopes of capturing a seventh Super Bowl title. There was no salary cap in 2010.

The numbers have made it difficult for Pittsburgh to make a splash in the free agent market. The Steelers went after wide receiver Plaxico Burress over the weekend, but he opted to sign a one-year, $3 million deal with the New York Jets.

The Steelers have focused on re-signing their own restricted free agents, including cornerback Ike Taylor and offensive linemen Willie Colon and Jonathan Scott.

Putting together long-term deals with linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who was designated with the franchise tag, and Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, whose current four-year deal expires at the end of the season, are a priority.

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